WSCUHSD board calls special meeting to discuss postponing rebranding

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, May 5, 2021

The West Sonoma County Union High School District board will discuss Superintendent Toni Beal’s request to consider postponing the campus rebranding of Analy High School and Laguna High School at a special board meeting over Zoom at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, according to the agenda sent early Tuesday evening.

An earlier open session scheduled for 5:30 p.m. allows the public to comment on the contents of the subsequent closed session, where the board will address “superintendent evaluation and goal setting,” the agenda said.

The agenda and Zoom link information for the main special board meeting are available here.

Per the May 5 agenda, the trustees voted to rebrand Analy starting in the 2021-22 school year to represent a unified student population and avoid “an environment where one school community is absorbed by another.”

The discussion on possibly pushing back the rebranding timeline comes in light of “the associated costs and potential effects” of the legal action recently filed against WSCUHSD over the decision to consolidate, the agenda report said.

The Community Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE) filed a petition for writ of mandate against WSCUHSD with the Sonoma Superior Court on April 21 that alleges the district violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to enable the March 10 vote to proceed with a previous plan to consolidate its comprehensive schools onto Analy’s Sebastopol campus and relocate Laguna students to the El Molino campus in Forestville.

An April 30 district press release described the lawsuit as untimely, unfortunate and frivolous coming “five months after the district’s board approved the consolidation on November 30, 2020.” The May 5 agenda said trustees ultimately included the consolidation plan as part of the fiscal recovery plan approved on March 10.

However, many community members refer to the decision to consolidate as the vote in March, not the end of November. All throughout, parents and others said the merger timeline was too accelerated to be a thoughtful process.

Sonoma West Times & News reported late November here and early December here that this arrangement was discussed as a placeholder plan to see two tax measures through the March 2 election that could have secured funding to delay consolidation. The parcel tax and the transient occupancy tax both failed to get the required two-thirds majority approval.

Staff suggests that the board consider slowing down the rebranding timeline, but it’s not changing course on a consolidation decision termed as “the only viable path to remaining fiscally solvent,” according to the April 30 statement.

The WSCUHSD press release pushed back against the lawsuit’s allegations, saying the district followed all CEQA requirements and obtained proper exemption from CEQA for the consolidation plan, “confident that it can successfully defend this frivolous and untimely lawsuit.”

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